Ulster County emergency housing is facing an emergency

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KINGSTON – “Ulster County is experiencing a housing crisis,” in particular how it impacts those who are living in emergency shelters, County Comptroller March Gallagher said in a report she released on Tuesday.

The county provides emergency shelter for individuals and families through emergency shelters operated by Family of Woodstock and a network of 15 motels that accept emergency shelter placements through the county Department of Social Services.

Gallagher said there will always be a need for emergency housing, but she said the county must continue to pursue more cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars.

“There are always people in need of emergency housing, unfortunately, but the trick is if you really had an inventory of affordable housing that they could move into, you would see people transitioning out of this motel system quicker and it would be less expensive for the taxpayer overall,” she said.

The comptroller said in 2020 the average length of emergency shelter stay was 70 nights for individuals and 97 nights for families. Those lengths of stay are directly driven by a lack of affordable housing for permanent placement, she said.